Videotape may show execution of hostage
Polish engineer seized in Pakistan
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan - A graphic video delivered to the Associated Press yesterday appeared to show the execution of a Polish engineer by Pakistani militants who had held him captive for more than four months.
A spokesman for the Taliban in northwest Pakistan said Saturday that they killed Piotr Stanczak because the government missed a deadline to release 26 prisoners.
Pakistan has seen a rash of kidnappings and attacks on foreigners in recent months, mostly blamed on Al Qaeda and Taliban militants trying to destabilize the secular government and punish it for supporting the US-led war in neighboring Afghanistan.
An American UN worker, John Solecki, was abducted last week in the border town of Quetta in southwestern Pakistan. Police said yesterday that they were investigating a claim of responsibility by the Baluchistan Liberation United Front, a purported separatist group.
The seven-minute execution video appears to show the Polish hostage, Stanczak, sitting on the floor flanked by two masked men.
Off camera, a militant briefly engages him in conversation before three others behead him. One of the hooded men then addresses the camera, blaming Pakistan for the execution for not agreeing to their demands to release Taliban prisoners.
If confirmed, Stanczak's death would appear to be the first killing of a Western hostage in Pakistan since US journalist Daniel Pearl was beheaded in 2002.
The video was given to an AP reporter in northwest Pakistan on a flash drive by an intermediary who said he obtained it from the Taliban. The agency has decided not to distribute images from the execution itself. It was unclear whether it was given to other media outlets.
Shahidullah Baig, a spokesman for the Pakistani Interior Ministry, said the government knew about the existence of the video and was investigating.
Piotr Adamkiewicz, a spokesman at the Polish embassy in Islamabad, said the mission had seen some images from the video. He said it appeared to show the Polish hostage being killed. "We are thinking that this is [Stanczak], but we have to wait to receive the full tape," he said.
Armed men pulled Stanczak from his car on Sept. 28 after killing three Pakistanis traveling with him near the city of Attock in northwest Pakistan.
Stanczak was surveying oil and gas fields for Geofizyka Krakow, a Polish geophysics institute. The institute said on its website that it was carrying out surveying work in Pakistan on behalf of the Oil & Gas Development Co., Pakistani oil corporation.
Solecki, the American UN official, was seized Feb. 2 in Quetta in Baluchistan province as he traveled to work at the offices of the UN refugee agency there. His driver was shot to death.